The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/25/13 at 01:43 PM ET
Updated 2x at 2:11 PM: If there is any consolation in the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup win last night, the Free Press's Helene St. James suggests that, after two years' worth of, "You need to be gigantic, strong and proficient at muck-and-grind, dump-and-not-chase hockey to win the Cup" suggestions, a smaller, speedier, puck possession team win the Cup...
And St. James feels that the Hawks' win "validates" the Wings' style of play:
The Blackhawks embody skill, top to bottom. Like the Wings with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, they are headlined up front by a pair of superbly talented players in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Chicago's defense is anchored by Duncan Keith, whose style is in the mold of Nicklas Lidstrom.
Right on down through the fourth line — populated by the likes of Andrew Shaw, Michael Frolik, Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg — the Blackhawks fielded players who belong in the NHL, not bubble players doing little but killing time while the top lines get some rest.
The Blackhawks' run — which also included dispatching the big Los Angeles Kings — is good for hockey. It's good for the Wings, who, next season, will be in a division with Boston Bruins, a team that's considered the biggest and the baddest. After Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook's playoff-best 80 hits, the next five defensemen all wear Boston sweaters. Bruins forward Milan Lucic led all NHL players with 102 hits, 17 more than runner-up Bryan Bickell of Chicago. The Blackhawks hit more where it counted: the back of the net.
Sure the Bruins were banged up —Patrice Bergeron had a broken rib and torn cartilage and a separated shoulder; Nathan Horton had a dislocated shoulder; probably every single player had a need for an ice pack, to varying degrees. But the Blackhawks didn't come through unscathed, either: Marian Hossa had a disk in his back that was causing nerve problems, numbing his right foot. Bickell had a sprained knee; Michal Handzus, a broken wrist and torn MCL. Toews got his bell rung in Game 5, according to his coach, Joel Quenneville, and for a while, he looked doubtful for Game 6. That just proved what everyone who watches hockey already knows: NHL players are the toughest in pro sports.
The whole playoffs also proved this: Big isn't necessarily better. The Anaheim Ducks have some very big forwards, but where was Corey Perry in the first-round series against Detroit? And where was Bobby Ryan? To those hankering for the Wings to trade for Ryan: It's not happening. They were not impressed by his competitiveness.
That's good to hear given his salary...And then there's this:
The Blackhawks did, of course, also beat the Wings, but the Wings were the only team that pushed Chicago to seven games. Had the Wings been a little healthier — like maybe having mobile defenseman Danny DeKeyser available — who knows what might have happened?
What if rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser hadn't gotten hurt in Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks? Could he have made the difference against the Blackhawks? Could that have been them in the Finals beating the Boston Bruins instead?
And she spoke with Niklas Kronwall, Wings coach Mike Babcock, Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and a certain Wings player mentor regarding DeKeyser's growth and long-term potential (and this is just a chunk thereof):
"He's the kind of kid, he's got great hockey sense, whether it was good coaching or he's just a flat-out smart player," Chelios said. "From the first game to the third game, he improved every game. Does everything -- nothing especially great but everything really good. Hopefully, at some point, the offense will kick in, too."
There's one thing, however, Chelios did as a player that DeKeyser doesn't plan to emulate -- riding the exercise bike in the sauna.
"I've seen some guys do that, but I'm not a big fan of that," DeKeyser said. It's just as well because even though DeKeyser's 6 feet 2 inches tall, he's a very lean 190 pounds.
"He's not meaty enough yet," Chelios said. "Physically, obviously they want him to be stronger, just because the NHL is going to be bigger and stronger. That'll come. It's not like he doesn't play strong. You can't knock him off his feet. On skates he's really strong."
In trade talk, given the chatter from St. James, MLive's Ansar Khan and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness over the past 24 hours, WXYZ's Brad Galli wins the "obvious Tweet of the day" award...
Even if the Wings can work out some sort of sign-and-trade deal, I'm guessing that they'll get a middle-round draft pick (i.e. 3rd, 4th or 5th round) for his rights, and in all honesty, I don't believe that he would have fetched anything more than that at the trade deadline. A 2nd-rounder? Possibly, but I don't think that the Wings' decision to hang on to Filppula hurt them in terms of landing an NHL player as the rest of the NHL knew that Detroit wasn't going to be able to re-sign him.
The Red Wings are exploring the trade market and GM Ken Holland is hoping to pull the trigger on at least one deal dealing up to this weekend's NHL Draft.
Holland has been actively trying to re-sign some of his main free agents, but he's also been focused on the trade wire, as he looks to improve his roster for next season.
"I'm going to explore a trade or two," Holland told the Detroit Free Press. "Maybe a two-for-one deal, maybe a three-for-one, or three-for-two."
The Wings are looking for upgrades up front, and are willing to part with multiple forwards in order to get one back.
Meanwhile, if the Red Wings are unable to come to terms on a new contract with Valtteri Filppula, the Free Press claims the team will trade his rights. Filppula, 29, is schedule to become an unrestricted free agent July 5.
And as I was writing this, WXYZ's Galli filed a report as well:
Thanks to the emergence of young talent during the playoffs, Detroit is faced with handling an excess of forwards. In order to trim the roster down, trades may be on the horizon.
Valtteri Filppula is a free agent and seems to be the most likely candidate to go. According to MLive, the 29-year old is seeking a long-term deal worth $5 million a season. After a disappointing 2012-13 season slowed by injuries, Filppula scored nine goals and eight assists in 41 games. The Red Wings may trade his negotiating rights as contract talks are reportedly stalled.
The Red Wings have two compliance buyouts, as part of the new CBA. They can use one or both this summer. Mikael Samuelsson is the most logical choice to be cut loose, but with $3 million and one year left on his contract, the belief is that his camp may argue his pectoral muscle is not healed. Per CBA rules, injured players cannot be bought out.
Todd Bertuzzi is another player who could fit the buyout category, but his cost isn't too expensive at only $2 million. MLive's Ansar Khan said the team will not decide if it will use a buyout until Monday at the earliest.
Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, and Grand Rapids star Tomas Tatar are all players the Red Wings would like to see in Detroit next season. Darren Helm is projected to return after missing most of the season with a back injury, and Damien Brunner and veteran Daniel Cleary are free agents the team is interested in bringing back - for the right price.
14 forwards are under contract. Cory Emmerton and Jordin Tootoo are potential trade options, with Tootoo being the most likely to be moved. After signing with the Red Wings in the offseason, Tootoo played in just one playoff game, as Mike Babcock elected to play younger talent.
Detroit has a surplus of talent up front, and that, by far is a good problem to have.
In the numbers/fan participation/etc. vein, Pavel Datsyuk's goal against Nashville is going to defeat Datsyuk's backhander against Jonathan Quick in TSN's Play of the Year final;
The Free Press wants you to vote in their sports nickname bracket contest;
Sportsline's Brian Stubits reports that Bovada's ranked the Wings' odds of winning the Stanley Cup at 16-1...
And this is shittily late in terms of timing, but Sport-Express's Dinara Kafiskina reports that Igor Larionov, Pavel Bure, Alexei Kasatanov and other Russian NHL and international hockey stars will be raising funds for the Russian ministry of emergency serices today in New York.
Update: Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner's weighs in on the Wings' agenda:
When it comes to the Red Wings, they’d prefer not use any of their compliance buyouts. Instead, they'd like to try to trade a player or two (Carlo Colaiacovo, Jordan Tootoo, Cory Emmerton), trade for a player's rights (Stephen Weiss) and sign some of their own pending free agents (Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner).
As far as the Wings and Val Filppula, they’re still talking. If they can't strike a deal with Filppula before the draft, the wings will try to trade his rights. They would then use Filppula’s money to sign a second-line center.
The Wings feel they’re set on the blue line, with seven or eight defensemen – depending on what they do with Colaiacovo – and have 14 forwards under contract, but there are huge health questions regarding three of their forwards. Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson were injured most of last season, and the Wings aren’t sure what to expect, if anything, from them next season.
There's a lot of speculation that Samuelsson is a strong buyout candidate, but the Wings are hesitant because even though he’s been cleared to play, Samuelsson could protest the buyout, asserting that he’s not eligible because he’s injured.
With 14 forwards already in the fold, the Wings could still sign Filppula, Cleary and Brunner, giving them 17 forwards under contract, which would leave zero cap space and the task of dumping players.
One thing is clear: The Wings would like to have some money to spend, just in case there is a free agent they want to pursue. The Wings want to be proactive, but it appears they’ll be heading into this weekend’s draft with a wait-and-see approach. They will decide what to do with their compliance buyouts after the draft.
The Wings will likely try to unload some of their players over the weekend. They might go after the rights of another team’s players -- always trying to keep the option to go after free agents July 5.
Once the NHL Draft is over, we should get a truer indication of what direction the Wings will go. As it stands now, there are so many variables, it’s like trying to solve a puzzle with too many pieces.
Update #2: He's 6'4," weighs 233 pounds, is all of 27 and he's going to get a lot of money from an NHL team for one good playoff run. His name is Bryan Bickell, and MLive's Ansar Khan examines the possibility that the Wings may target him as an unrestricted free agent:
Strengths: He emerged as a force in the playoffs, realizing some untapped offensive potential by equaling his regular season goal total (nine) in less than half the games. He has tremendous size, which he uses well in a net-front role and battling in the corners and along the boards. A physical player who led the team in hits during the regular season and the playoffs, he also is responsible defensively. A career third-line player who fit in well alongside high-end players on the top line.
Weaknesses: He has no track record as an impact player. Did he just get on a once-in-lifetime hot streak, or is this a sign of things to come? Some team is going to gamble that he is the real deal by giving him a lucrative contract.
Notable: Bickell played for two seasons under Red Wings assistant coach Bill Peters, when he was the head coach of the AHL Rockford IceHogs. … The Blackhawks' second-round pick in 2004 (41st overall), Bickell has played in more AHL games (228) than NHL games (220).
Why he would interest the Red Wings: They had Bickell on their radar long before he caught fire in the playoffs because of his size and untapped offensive potential. But, that was before the hockey world noticed what he is capable of doing, raising his value.
How he could fit in with the Red Wings: He'd be getting paid like a top-six forward, so that is where he would play, providing size, physical play, a net-front presence and secondary scoring.
What it might take to get him: Bickell's timing was impeccable. It's a thin free-agent market and big forwards who can score are always in demand. The Blackhawks want to keep him, but would have to dump salary to do so. Given his age, it wouldn't be surprising to see him get offers exceeding $4 million a season on a long-term contract,
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.